“We live in a time when the salacious and the negative trumps the productive.”

These are the honest and forthright words of a senior state government minister to an assembled gathering of regional newspaper executives in Melbourne this week, but they are also a symptom of what’s wrong in politics today.

Firstly, we don’t blame the MP for what they said – after all, it’s essentially true… but that does not mean the rest of us should accept it.

It has become increasingly difficult for politicians to sell a positive message, to relate policy, to relate to constituents or to demonstrate good government at any level because of the intimidating tactics, the negativity, back stabbing, point scoring and as it has emerged the bullying that has become ingrained in the highly charged political environment we are all witness to.

That’s not a good thing – in fact it is absolutely woeful.

Australia’s economy seems to be ticking along reasonably well at the moment, and if the state of federal politics is anything to go by, we seem to have hit upon good times by good luck rather than good government.

We don’t blame anyone for pointing out the truth or simply stating the facts, but the important message for all politicians to heed is the absolute despair and desperation many Australians feel about the current state of play.

Australians want good, strong and effective political leadership at every level and in every instance.

Moreover, we deserve it.

Australians want to vote for politicians at the local, state and federal level on the basis of policy, vision and ability, and to not be bogged down in the negativity that has stifled politics today.

Parties on both sides have in recent times squandered countless billions of dollars trying to out-manoeuvre an opponent, and the obsession to bring down an opponent has become all too common.

On a federal level, we should consider set terms, so that political opportunism can be set aside in favour of political certainty, and so parties can have the courage of their convictions to back projects and policy beyond their tenure.

There are 11 weeks to go before the November 24 state election, and that still gives the major parties in this state time to adjust their political radar and stop turning on each other and instead turn towards what could, would and should be good for Victoria.

Because in the end, that’s what the rest of us want to vote for.